SAN DIEGO - Since losing a controversial split decision to Will Brooks on May 17, Michael Chandler has told anyone who asks that he had the worst training camp of his career leading up to the fight, as he pushed through an injury that should have caused him to drop out of the bout.
Brooks, who defeated Chandler as a short-notice replacement for Eddie Alvarez in a Bellator interim lightweight title fight that night in suburban Memphis, has heard Chandler's talk. And he's not particularly impressed.
"I chalk it up to, his ego doesn't allow him to step outside of himself and really examine the big picture," Brooks, who rematches Chandler for the vacant lightweight belt on Saturday at Bellator 131, told MMAFighting.com at Wednesday's open workouts. "I think sometimes his ego and the people around him pump his ego so much that he's not allowed to see his different things. But it's not my problem. I control what I can control and he can control what he needs to do."
For his part, Brooks, who won the first bout via split decision, notes that Chandler wasn't the only one who had to adjust on the fly. Brooks had been preparing for a three-round fight against Nate Jolly before he got the call to replace Alvarez in the five-round title bout less than two weeks before the bout.
"As far as being 100 percent healthy or, training for Alvarez, or this and that, personally I would never approach it like that," Brooks said. "I was training for a three-round fight, against, nothing against Nate Jolly, but he's a lower-level guy. I was training to go out there and practice some skills I had been working on. I went out there and I made that adjustment. It may not have been the prettiest thing in the world, but I did it, and I think if I would have ended up not walking away with the belt, I would have been the same guy. I would have approached it and said ‘today was not my night,' and moved on."
While debate raged in the aftermath of the bout as to whether Brooks or Chandler deserved the decision (and there were many who scored the fight a draw), Brooks, an American Top Team fighter, says that he doesn't feel any pressure to put an extra stamp on the rematch.
"In [the first] fight I thought I evolved leaps and bounds of what people thought I was going to do, and I think I would have done the same thing regardless of who the opponent was," Brooks said. "For me it was evolving as a person, evolving as a fighter. I can't discredit him or do anything like that. As far of making it clear that I beat him, I don't worry about those type of things, i put together my game plans with my coaches in terms of winning the fight in a dominating fashion, without the idea of me needing to prove anything to anyone."
That goes double for Chandler's talk of a bad training camp.
"I've heard those things, and at the end of the day I can't care less," Brooks said. "At the end of the day, I can't control those things, I can't control what he says. All I can do is control what I can control and that's my training camp, my preparation, that's me going into the cage and doing my part."